Oakland Raiders (4-10) at Denver Broncos (11-3)
KICKOFF: Saturday, 4:15 ET
TV: CBS, Dick Enberg, Dan Dierdorf, Armen Keteyian
SERIES: 91st meeting, Raiders lead 53-35-2. Broncos won last meeting 31-17 on Nov. 13 at McAfee Coliseum and have won four of last five. Raiders won last game at Invesco Field, 25-24 on Nov. 28, 2004. 2005 RANKINGS: Raiders: offense 19th (29th rush, 13th pass); defense 19th (23rd rush, 16th pass). Broncos: offense 5th (2nd rush, 16th pass); defense 20th (2nd rush, 29th pass)
PREDICTION: Broncos 30-17
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Raiders' struggling passing attack will take
another hit if turf toe keeps RB LaMont Jordan out of the lineup. Without a
significant rushing threat, an offensive line that has allowed 18 sacks
over the past four games will be under even more pressure, making it
difficult for QB Kerry Collins to attack the Broncos' shaky secondary.
There are also problems on the defensive side of the ball for the
Raiders, who don't defense the run or the bootleg particularly well -- both
Broncos staples. Denver averaged just 3.2 yards per carry in the first
meeting, relying more on deep passes to move the ball. The Broncos
typically don't like to put the offense's ability to move the ball on QB Jake Plummer's arm, but the Raiders are inexperienced in the secondary and
still vulnerable to big plays.
FAST FACTS: Road team has won the past four meetings. Raiders: Are trying to avoid their first winless season within the division in the Al Davis era (1963). ... Have a seven-game losing streak against the AFC West. ... WR Randy Moss needs 41 receiving yards to reach 10,000 for his career. Broncos: Have won six consecutive games played on Saturdays. ... Have a nine-game home winning streak. ... Coach Mike Shanahan is 16-5 (.762) against the franchise he coached for 20 games from 1988-89).
--QB Kerry Collins has never had a season in which he has thrown fewer than 13 interceptions in a season in which he started 13 or more games. Collins has 11 in 13 starts in 2006.
--RB LaMont Jordan still had not removed his protective boot through Thursday and had not practiced, meaning he will miss the Christmas Eve game against Denver.
--DT Ted Washington, who had played in just 12 of his team's previous 32 games with Chicago and New England because of injury, will make his 31st consecutive start as a Raider against Denver.
--K Sebastian Janikowski, who has at least one field goal from 50 yards and beyond in his previous five seasons, is 0-from-3 from 50 and beyond this season with a long of 49.
--OG Ron Stone, who has not started every game of a 16-game season since 1999 with the New York Giants, will start his 15th game at right guard against Denver.
--WR Rod Smith has eight 1,000-yard seasons since 1997. That is the most in the NFL in that time. Jimmy Smith could join him with eight 1,000-yard seasons since 1997 with 94 more yards.
--CB Curome Cox practiced all week. He hasn't shown any ill effects of a slightly separated shoulder that he suffered last week. He should be able to play against Oakland.
--CB Domonique Foxworth will have a tough challenge against the Raiders. Oakland has two dangerous starting receivers, Jerry Porter and Randy Moss.
Because LaMont Jordan likely won't play, the Raiders will probably pass a lot, and they will likely take plenty of shots at Foxworth, who is a rookie filling in the starting lineup for Darrent Williams.
--QB Jake Plummer has the second-highest rating in the NFL since Week 6. Only Peyton Manning, who has a 109.3 rating, has a higher rating than Plummer's 100.7. Plummer's touchdown-to-interception ratio since Week 6 is 13-to-3.
--FB Kyle Johnson got some recognition when he was named a third alternate to the Pro Bowl. Johnson has five receiving touchdowns this season, which is second in the NFL among running backs behind Washington's Mike Sellers.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
Oakland Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins has been benched, booed and savaged in the media.
Yet rather than gratefully accept a way out, as is provided by his inflated 2006 contract, Collins would like to give it another try.
Collins' salary cap number in 2006 is just under $12.9 million on a team which currently stands at over $121 million -- well over a cap projected to be between $92 million and $95 million.
Releasing Collins after the season would clear nearly $9.2 million. He could also renegotiate, but isn't likely to do so unless he has assurances he will remain the No. 1 quarterback.
Since the security of coach Norv Turner is tenuous, and the Raiders are 4-10, virtually anything is possible.
"Certainly, I'm aware of my contract status and it would be hard to think I would stay here under the current contract," Collins said. "But I'd like to be here. I'd like to be part of turning this thing around. It's purely speculative to think what's going to happen right now. We'll play these two weeks out, go to the off-season, and see what happens."
When the Raiders face the Broncos Christmas Eve at Invesco Field, Collins and most of the Oakland roster will be auditioning for a job. Either with the Raiders, or someone else.
"This tape gets seen by a lot of people," Collins said. "There's a product you put out there. People look at how you finished under tough circumstances. I think it's important for everybody to understand and know the effort that needs to be there, not only for your team, but for yourself."
Collins began the season playing efficiently, if not explosively. After throwing two interceptions in the first seven games, Collins threw eight in the next five. Four have been returned for touchdowns.
After a 34-10 loss to San Diego, Turner went with Marques Tuiasosopo against the New York Jets, then back to Collins after Tuiasosopo floundered.
Through it all, Collins stated his displeasure in a matter-of-fact fashion without a trace of bitterness. His demeanor has won over some teammates, even if his play hasn't always done the same.
"Kerry is a guy who shows great character," safety Stuart Schweigert said. "He's a guy who has stuck in there. It's hard, because every game he plays is like an away game because he's got the crowd booing him."
With 32 more yards this season, Denver Broncos running back Mike Anderson will join a select group.
Gary Brown, Earnest Byner, Otis Anderson and Mike Garrett each went five seasons between 1,000-yard campaigns, which is tied for the longest stretch in NFL history. Anderson, who rushed for 1,487 yards as a rookie in 2000, has 968 yards with two games remaining.
"It's great; it's a great feeling, but the main thing is about (winning) this weekend and next weekend," Anderson said.
Anderson was a sixth-round draft pick in 2000, and was suddenly thrust in the starting role when Terrell Davis was injured. He said that season was a whirlwind, and he has appreciated this season a little bit more.
"When I look back now; the rookie year; I really didn't understand what was going on at the time," Anderson said. "We went like 13-3 or whatever it was (actually 11-5), and I look at it now and am like 'Do you know how hard that is to do?' But everything was going by so fast. I didn't have a clue. I was just enjoying the moment and learning on the go."
Anderson also had to come back from a serious injury last year. Anderson tore two groin muscles in the preseason and spent all season on injured reserve, but has come back to show he's still capable of being an effective back at 32 years old.
Anderson said he didn't set out to prove anything this season.
"To me, who are you trying to show it to?" Anderson said. "I've done a lot of good things in this league, and I've had a lot of success and had fun. So to me, it's not really proving anything. It just shows I'm doing my part to contribute to the success of this team."
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